Ex-South African Judge Becomes MP For Zuma’s Party

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A former judge in South Africa, John Hlophe who was impeached for misconduct four months ago, has been sworn in as an MP for ex-President Jacob Zuma’s party.

Hlophe was among the 58 uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) MPs sworn in as the party ended its boycott of the parliament formed after the 29 May elections.

MK, which is set to become the official opposition, has appointed Dr Hlophe to lead its team in parliament.

An investigation found Dr Hlophe, who was the leading judge in the Western Cape province, tried to influence justices at the country’s top court in a case linked to Mr Zuma.

He approached two justices in 2008 to see if they would support Mr Zuma in a decision relating to a corruption case while he denied any wrongdoing, saying the case was political.

MK emerged as the third-largest party in the election, playing a major role in the African National Congress (ANC) losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years.

Mr Zuma campaigned for MK after a massive fallout with the ANC and its leader, President Cyril Ramapahosa.

The ANC has signed a coalition deal with the second-biggest party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and eight smaller parties to form a new government.

The MK’s 58 new parliamentarians were sworn in more than a week after MPs from other parties were.

MK had been boycotting parliament, claiming the elections were marred by irregularities. It has not provided evidence to support its claim.

On Tuesday MK spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela said that the party’s decision to end the boycott “does not, in any way, signify an acceptance” of the election result.

He has also said MK was “proud” to appoint Dr Hlophe as its parliamentary leader, praising him as an “impeccable jurist and seasoned activist”.

He was chosen for the post after South Africa’s highest court ruled that the constitution barred Mr Zuma from becoming an MP because he was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021 for defying a court order to cooperate with a judge-led inquiry into corruption during his nine-year presidency.

As he was sworn in, Dr Hlophe said he was “grateful” to Mr Zuma and the MK leadership for launching the party, adding that the ANC had “completely gone astray”.

“This is not the ANC that we used to know,” he said.